Mark Sweadner is a candidate for Frederick County executive. The primary election is June 24.
Why are you running for office?
I have become very disappointed with the decision-making of the current BOCC (Board of County Commissioners), as well as previous boards. All of my competitors for the position of county executive have had their opportunity in office to do what is best for the citizens, but in my opinion, they have not done a very good job. They have not represented the citizens of this county, which I will do if elected your county executive. They have only represented special interest groups at an extreme cost to the taxpayer both currently and more importantly for many years to come. Examples of this include out-of-control residential growth, support of an incinerator, proposed sale of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation and Montevue Assisted Living nursing homes, Tax Incremental Financing (TIFs), long-term Developer Rights and Responsibility Agreements, and above all, excessive taxation to support these ill-conceived ideas. The citizens of Frederick County need an immediate change.
As the first Frederick County executive, how would you build a positive working relationship with the county council? How would you engage the community in the transition to charter government?
I have always been able to work with all types of people. A positive working relationship with the county council would be built by regular meetings and two-way exchange of information. ... I would appoint a contact person to deal with questions from our citizens regarding the transition to charter government. I would also have our public information officer write news releases to the local media to help explain this transition to our community.
Describe your views on the county’s long-term waste disposal needs. As executive, would you support building a waste-to-energy incinerator? If not, what would be your preferred alternative?
Slowing down residential growth will help tremendously with both short- and long-term waste disposal needs. ... The current method of utilizing our transfer station and hauling the waste out of county is working fine. I am totally opposed to building a waste-to-energy incinerator based upon several factors — namely, 1) not a cost-effective solution to this issue, 2) problems associated with ash disposal, 3) necessity to burn over a million tires a year for heat generation causing environmental pollution, 4) excessive use of water for the incinerator, 5) bringing in unknown out-of-county waste to meet required capacity, 6) increased cost to the taxpayer by paying for the builders debt service included in the Energy Recovery Fee, 7) flawed financial analysis to make this option appear viable. My preferred alternative would be to build a materials recycling facility thus creating jobs or partner with Carroll County with their Resource Recovery Park.
Do you think the county should sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living?
I am strongly opposed to the sale of CCRC and MAL. Frederick County has a moral and ethical responsibility to keep the facilities based upon the authorization by the Maryland General Assembly in 1826 for Frederick to purchase land for the benefit of the poor. ... The resolution authorizing the sale is flawed with the financial information ... in order to support the current board’s agenda. These costs are overstated by $9 million. The county just recently constructed a new facility for these two nursing homes at a cost in excess of $37.5 million as of May 16, 2013. This doesn’t even include any value for the land. Who would make an arm’s length transaction to sell this property for $30 (million) and pay another $10.7 million to Aurora to boot?
How would you manage the county budget?
I am going to manage the county budget the same way I am managing my own budget, which is being extremely frugal. The wasteful spending of your tax dollars must stop. Taxes made up over 92 percent of the General Fund revenues last fiscal year, or over $405 million in these two taxes. You can thank a previous BOCC president running for county executive for increasing your local income taxes by 16 percent.
I am going to reduce extravagant costs related to fringe benefits received by county employees and refund this back to the taxpayer who has been footing this bill. In fiscal year 2013, the taxpayer was paying in excess of $22,000 for each county employee for health and retirement. Total cost for these two benefits exceeded $39 million in FY 13.
The FY 14 Adopted Operating Budget for the board of education was $532 million. Salaries and benefits make up approximately 87 percent of this budget. ... Detailed analysis needs to be made of these fringe benefits as has been made regarding county employees prior to answering whether or not I would support funding county public schools above the maintenance of effort.
What would you do as executive to draw businesses and jobs into the county?
The function of bringing new businesses and jobs to our county rests jointly with our Department of Business Development and Retention and the county executive. I will work closely with DBDR in setting goals in promoting our county to prospective new businesses. We have a lot to offer to new businesses here in Frederick County and that should be the only enticement that is necessary for them to move to Frederick County.
What would be your plan for making sure school construction, road improvements and public safety services keep pace with an growing county population?
These items would be planned for in the Capital Improvements Program for capital costs and in the General Fund for the operating cost only after it has been determined that the area has adequate facilities to support the proposed growth. The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance needs to dictate when growth can occur without exceptions. This is the way it was previously but has been changed to allow development to occur when facilities are not adequate by paying a mitigation fee. This certainly doesn’t solve the inadequacy of these facilities — it only makes them worse.